Movie Review: “The Boxtrolls” – Whimsical Fun For Everyone

Written by Angela October 03, 2014

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It was not so long ago that animated feature films were widely regarded as mere “kids movies.” During these dark times, the term “cartoon” was stigmatized as a portent for poor cinematic quality paired with an intellectually dire storyline capable of amusing only the most infantile of mind, meanwhile leaving compulsory guardians the world over groaning in their theater seats. Thankfully, recent releases have shed light on these misgivings to reveal that in fact animated films have no less potential than any other genre to engage and entertain viewers both young, old, and anywhere in between. The latest amongst these is “The Boxtrolls,”a delightful fantasy adventure that proves to be as detailed as it is enchanting.

Directed by Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi and produced by the enterprising animation studio Laika, “The Boxtrolls” is set in the hillside land of Cheesebridge. Determined to maintain the area’s more savoury reputation, the town’s white-hatted elite make a deal with the duplicitous Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) to eliminate it’s pesky infestation of supposedly nasty nocturnal trolls. The town’s populace may be fearful, but in truth the trolls are gentle creatures who don castaway boxes, more interested in using scavenged items to create inventions than eating the still-beating hearts of children. They have even loved and raised a human baby named Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), who is now grown up enough to realize that he and his underground surrogate family have more than a few reasons to fear the world above. Despite this, Eggs decides that, with the help of his new-found friend, Winnie (Elle Fanning), it is high time he faces his fears and fights back against Snatcher once and for all.

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Never be afraid to go….

As the third feature film produced by Laika after “Coraline” (2009) and “ParaNorman,” (2012), “The Boxtrolls” cements the studio’s timbre as a maker of off-beat, semi-gothic family films—like the work of Tim Burton, only fresher and less assuming. This is particularly fitting when one considers the remarkable detail that goes into any 3D stop-motion work, since the same amount of meticulous attention to atmosphere is required to pull off fantasy story-telling, no matter what the medium. As a result, Laika’s small but impressive stockpile should by now be regarded by the masses as a go-to source for eerie and substantial entrainment. Just like its predecessors, “The Boxtrolls” presents an imaginative fairy-tale of humour and wit, rounded off with a healthy dose of self-reflexivity that hits the sweet spot between being adult oriented, but not too far oriented above the heads of its younger audience.

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…outside of the box.

Based off Alan Snow’s novel “Here Be Monsters,” Annable and Stacchi did their best to create an accessible story within Snow’s elaborate universe. Compared to “Coraline” and “ParaNorman,” this story is slightly cliched, following a rather formulaic plot structure and delivering a foreseeable message about finding one’s place in a topsy turvy world. Although the plot is the weakest thus far to come from Laika, as a standalone family film it certainly holds its own in terms of originality. The finest points are truly in the spectacular visuals, garnished with the script’s timely wisecracks and unrelenting pace. Each character is lovable in his or her own way, but the boxtrolls themselves steal the show with each flash of their grimy smiles and muttering of their secret high pitched language. It’s impossible to walk out of this movie in a bad mood. While not the most challenging movie to screen this year, “The Boxtrolls” makes a casual attempt at reminding its audience of a few vital life lessons as it focuses its main energies on giving everyone an time. It may not strive to change your life, but it offers a different way of looking at the world for an hour and half. “The Boxtrolls” is definitely worth your time.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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About Angela

Angela McInnes is an English major and up-and-coming horror film aficionado. To her, happiness is a bottle of rum and a creature-feature on a Saturday night.

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